Jason Michael Spelbring and Bardway Baby
If you were lucky enough to be at the Festival in August over the last four years, you might have attended Bardway Baby, a pops style concert that raises money for the Artistic Initiative Fund. This year, there will be two performances: August 1 at 11:30pm and August 8 at 11:30pm. Tickets are $25, available online and at the ticket office. All proceeds go to the Artistic Initiative Fund.
We caught up with one of its founders and this year’s organizer, Jason Michael Spelbring, to get some history and an update on what we can expect this year.
Tell us a bit about the origins of Bardway Baby.
Aaron Galligan-Stierle and I were co-chairs for the REACH Cabaret in 2010. That was the summer that Brian and David became co-artistic directors and announced the Artistic Initiative Fund. This fund has three objectives:
- Establish and identify a core group of actors, directors, and designers who regularly appear on and off our stages.
- Utilize resources from the fund to support, enhance, and increase the size and scope of our production design aesthetic.
- Increase the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s national and international exposure and profile; this includes attending national conferences, utilizing new technology to support our marketing strategies, and exploring outreach and touring opportunities.
When Aaron and I heard that, we thought “What can we do? What if we do a sexy version of Cabaret? Like a Pops Concert format for one night only following a performance in the Auditorium Theatre.” We added water and it happened. That first year I came out the stage door to see a line of people around the fountain down to the lawn. I was completely blown away. We had 700+ patrons attend.
Tell us about the program for this year.
This year it’s Bardway Baby: An Evening of Rodgers and Hammerstein. You’ll hear songs across the canon of their amazing work. Performers include Aaron as host, with special guests Brian Vaughn and David Ivers. There will be ten performers: Larry Bull, Brian Vaughn, James Sanders, Kyle Eberlein, Peter Saide, Melinda Pfundstein, Misty Cotton, Bree Murphy, Bri Sudia, and Tina Scariano. There will be a group opening number, each singer performs a solo and then a fantastic closing number – a choral arrangement of two classics, created by our musical director, Sam Clein.
Tickets are $25 and you get an assigned seat so you don’t have to wait in line.
What about the coordination with the Education Department?
In late July, there is an advanced Tech Camp, where attendees learn about stage management and lighting. For their hands-on experience, the students will light the August 1st show. Those cues will be saved and reused on August 8th. We’re excited that we’re also able to support the education component of the Festival.
How can our patrons support the Artistic Initiative Fund if they can’t attend?
If you go to the Donation page, there is a drop-down menu, with the Artistic Initiative Fund as one of the options. https://boxoffice.bard.org/TheatreManager/95/tmlogin.html?DC_SEQ=0
You can purchase tickets for this year’s Bardway Baby (August 1 & 8) online at www.bard.org or by visiting or calling the ticket office at 800-PLAYTIX. Tickets are $25.